Lucien Clegue

Lucien Clegue, “Testament of Orpheus de Jean Cocteau”

Lucien Clergue was born in Aries, France. Clergue was from a family of shopkeepers and could not afford to pursue further studies in a college or university.. In 1949, he learned the basics of photography. Four years later, at a corrida in Arles, Lucien showed his photographs to Spanish painter Pablo Picasso who, though subdued, asked to see more of his work. Within a year and a half, young Clergue worked on his photography with the goal of sending more images to Picasso.

During this period, he worked on a series of photographs of traveling entertainers, acrobats and harlequins, the Saltimbanques. He also worked on a series of photos whose subject was carrion. On November 4, 1955, Lucien Clergue with more photographs again visited Picasso in Cannes,  France. Their friendship lasted nearly 30 years until Picasso’s death.

He was named Knight of the Legion d’honneur in 2003 and elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France on May 31, 2006, at the same time as a new section dedicated to photography was created. Clergue was the first photographer to enter the Academy to a position devoted specifically to photography. In 2013 he served as the Chairman of the Academy of Fine Arts.

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